Derrick Malone stood in the middle of the chaos of Fiesta Bowl Media Day on Thursday at the Camelback Inn, marveling at how he came to be a part of it.
Malone, a Thurgood Marshall graduate, is a sophomore walk-on tight end for the Ohio State Buckeyes.
“It’s truly a blessing how I came about doing it,” Malone said. “I started playing football my senior of high school. I was kind of inspired by (fellow Thurgood Marshall grad) Landon Brazile. He played and got offered by Cincinnati. I figured I would do the same and give it a shot. Coach Earl White was in my ear, telling me, ‘With your size, you can definitely play football at a high level.’ I took that shot and took the time out to get in touch with some coaches, not just Ohio State but all kind of coaches. I got an email from Ohio State. They wanted me to come up for spring practice and check it out. It definitely seemed like a great place. I took that chance, and now I’m here today. This is my second year in the program. It has been a great experience so far.”
Malone played pee wee football but then turned to basketball and track. He said he just wasn’t interested in playing football. But Brazile and also another high school classmate, Vayante Copeland, who’s now at Michigan State, inspired him to return to football.
Malone had been a Buckeye fan his whole life, so it made sense to join the scout team. He said his job is to give his best effort every day in practice, whether he’s working on the punt or kickoff teams or playing the role of an opposing tight end, as he’s doing this week in Arizona as Ohio State prepares to play Clemson on Saturday.
Malone hopes to get his shot on the field some day.
“It’s all about development until you get your shot,” he said.
Malone said his dad, Derrick Malone Sr., arrived in Arizona on Wednesday and will attend the Fiesta Bowl.